Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Pennant coralfish

Heniochus acuminatus

Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The pennant coralfish (Heniochus acuminatus), also known as the longfin bannerfish, reef bannerfish or coachman, is a species of fish of the family Chaetodontidae, native to the Indo-Pacific area.


The pennant coralfish is a small-sized fish that can reach a maximum length of 25 cm. However, the average size generally observed in the nature oscillates around 15 cm.

Its body is compressed laterally, the first rays of its dorsal fin stretch in a long white filament. The background color of its body is white with two large black diagonal bands. Beyond the second black stripe, the dorsal and the caudal fins are yellow. The pectoral fins are also yellow.

The head is white, the eyes are black and linked together by a black band. The snout, spotted with black, is a bit stretched with a small terminal protractile (it can be extend) mouth.

The juvenile doesn't have yet after the second black stripe any white area like adults.

The pennant coralfish can easily be confused with the quite similar schooling bannerfish, (Heniochus diphreutes ). The main and visible differences are: a longer snout for the reef bannerfish and spots on its snout are darker, the pelvic fin of the reef bannerfish is longer and has a rounded end unlike the schooling bannerfish which has a smaller and more angular end.

Distribution and habitat

The pennant coralfish is widespread throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific from the eastern coast of Africa, Red Sea included, to Polynesia and from south Japan to the south of the Great Barrier Reef.

The reef bannerfish likes relatively deep waters from protected lagoon, channels or outer reef slopes from 15 to 75 meters deep.


The pennant coralfish lives in pairs and feeds on zooplankton in the water column and occasionally benthic invertebrates. Juveniles are solitary and can feed by cleaning other fishes.

Conservation status

The pennant coralfish is harvested for the aquarium trade in some geographical areas and it is commonly sold as a cheaper alternative to the Moorish idol, which is considered to be nearly impossible for most hobbyists to keep.

However, there do not appear to be any current threats to this species and it is listed as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN.


The pennant coralfish was first formally described as Chaetodon acuminatus in 1758 by Linnaeus in the 10th edition of Systema Natura. Linnaeus also described a species he named Chaetodon macrolepidotus which Georges Cuvier used as the type species for the genus Heniochus and which has since come to be regarded as a synonym of H. acuminatus.

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Scientific classification

Heniochus acuminatus

Common names

  • English:
    • Bannerfish
    • Coachman
    • Featherfin coralfish
    • Longfin bannerfish
    • Pennant bannerfish
    • Pennant coralfish
    • Reef bannerfish
    • Wimple fish
  • French:
    • Cocher solitaire
    • Garnaison
    • Hénioche commun
    • Pavillon


  • Chaetodon mycteryzans, Laurence Theodore Gronow (1854)
  • Chaetodon bifasciatus, George Shaw (1803)
  • Taurichthys macrolepidotus, Carolus Linnaeus (1758)
  • Heniochus macrolepidotus, Carolus Linnaeus (1758)
  • Chaetodon macrolepidotus, Carolus Linnaeus (1758)
  • Chaetodon acuminatus, Carolus Linnaeus (1758)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)


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Pennant coralfish

Range Map

Distribution map of Pennant coralfish, Heniochus acuminatus in Thailand
  • Similan Islands
  • Surin Islands
Range map of Heniochus acuminatus in Thailand